Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev should be invited to the July summit of the seven major industrial democracies in London. This question, which is suddenly high on the international agenda, figured prominently in Washington talks this week between President Bush and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Neither of these leaders would commit himself, but Mr. Kohl was decidedly more receptive to the idea.
It is time, in our view, for the Bush administration to stop hanging back. If the president is sincere in his desire to help the embattled Kremlin leader, the time is now. CIA analyses confirm that the Soviet economy is in a catastrophic tailspin. After months of confrontation, central authorities in Moscow are seeking reconciliation with autonomy-minded republics to prevent chaos. Economic and political reform is somewhat back in favor, and the Gorbachev regime is ostensibly lifting hoary Communist restrictions on emigration.
Given all these factors, plus Germany's eagerness to foster the departure of Soviet troops from its soil, it is easy to see why Mr. Kohl has vowed "a definitive answer" to the Gorbachev question soon. But what about Mr. Bush? His administration is deeply divided over the wisdom of a bilateral superpower summit unless there is a strategic arms reduction treaty to be signed. We continue to believe U.S. policy should be: "No treaty, no summit." Mr. Gorbachev's appearance at an eight-power London conference would not compromise this formulation. And it still would give Mr. Bush a chance for face-to-face talks with Mr. Gorbachev.